How bad is unemployment in Tunis

Fit for the job market - unemployed academics in Tunisia

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According to the Tunisian statistical office, 40 percent of women and over 20 percent of men with university degrees in Tunisia are unemployed. How do these figures come about and how can unemployed academics in Tunisia be made fit for the job market? Targeted projects and career fairs help to improve the situation.

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia over five years ago. But everything has not turned out well since then: The Tunisian economy and the country are struggling with a high unemployment rate - it is currently around 15 percent. But it is twice as high among young, well-educated people: around 30 percent of university graduates cannot find a job.

“There are several reasons for this,” says Beate Schindler-Kovats, head of the DAAD office in Tunis: “In Tunisia there is an oversupply of academics and, at the same time, a lack of qualified specialists with vocational training. The Tunisian state offers a university place guarantee - this means that almost all high school graduates study. Vocational training, on the other hand, is not very attractive and is not seen as an alternative. ”In Tunisia, however, the manufacturing industry in particular needs skilled workers. The need for academics, however, is limited. "The chance of being unemployed increases the higher the degree," summarizes Schindler-Kovats.

There is a fundamental difference here to the situation on the German labor market. “Good education - good opportunities: The job market for academics in Germany” is the title of a brochure published by the Employment Agency in August 2015. There you can read that in 2014 only around 2.5 percent of academics in Germany were unemployed. In some areas - especially engineering - there is currently even full employment. Why are the job market opportunities for university graduates so different in Germany and Tunisia?

Higher education in Tunisia

In an interview, Beate Schindler-Kovats, head of the DAAD office in Tunis, speaks about the problems of higher education in Tunisia.

To the interview

Gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience

“On the one hand, there is a big gap between what the universities teach and what the economy demands: studying in Tunisia is far too theoretical, the students lack practical experience. On the other hand, many graduates cannot be placed at all because they do not know how to write an application or how to present themselves in an interview. ”This is how Youssef Fennira outlines the reasons for the high unemployment among academics in Tunisia. He works as director of the Center for Vocational Orientation and Retraining (CORP), a joint project of the German-Tunisian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH.

Dr. Martin Henkelmann, Managing Director of the AHK Tunisia: “Academics in Tunisia are well trained and have a sound theoretical knowledge. However, they lack a direct reference to practice, to everyday life in a company. ”In addition to technical qualifications, IT skills, presentation skills and, above all, social skills (“ soft skills ”) are required in the company. “Team spirit, flexibility, a sense of responsibility and organization are important keywords in everyday business life,” Henkelmann points out.

Video: CORP - Official launch 2015 (French)

Continuing education for unemployed academics

And this is exactly where CORP comes in. "We would like to give our participants the tools they need to survive on the job market," says Fennira. "To achieve this, we work in two areas: on the one hand, in detailed advice and imparting skills for the job search, and on the other hand in targeted further training."

Fennira calls the first core area employability - that is, employability on the job market. This program begins with a detailed evaluation. "Then the person in question will know about their strengths and weaknesses and - very importantly - their value on the job market." Then Fennira and his team train how to write an application correctly and how to present yourself in an interview. "Our goal is for our participants to take responsibility for themselves and actively contribute to the job market."

In the second core area, CORP offers short training modules that are geared towards the needs of the company. “Maybe someone studied philosophy, but needs commercial knowledge for a particular job. We can help, ”explains Fennira. “88,000 positions are not filled in Tunisia because the companies cannot find suitable applicants. These positions could be filled with university graduates if we train them professionally. "

Another important task of CORP is arranging contacts with companies. “We bring companies and graduates together. And we can look back on a pretty successful record so far, ”says Fennira. "Since September 2015, a total of 109 university graduates have found jobs through our program."

Video: German-Tunisian career fair "Trained in GermanY"

Career fairs as door openers

University graduates can also make contact with companies at career fairs. In January 2016 the trade fair “Trained in GermanY” took place in Tunis; It was organized jointly by the Alumniportal Deutschland and the AHK Tunisia. 30 German and Tunisian companies, including car manufacturers and IT companies as well as German political foundations and organizations took part in the one-day fair. Over 700 visitors took the opportunity to talk to HR managers. Many of you had prepared application documents that you could hand in at the stands.

"Career fairs are a good opportunity for unemployed academics to find out about current developments on the labor market and to make initial contacts with companies," says Dr. Martin Henkelmann. "A direct conversation and a good impression here can often open the door to further discussions."

Rethinking for a long-term change

However, a lot still needs to be done to ensure that the labor market situation for academics in Tunisia changes in the long term. "On the one hand, vocational training in Tunisia must be strengthened," says Dr. Martin Henkelmann. "On the other hand, the course has to be geared more towards the needs of the economy: more internships over a period of more than three months should be compulsory." new language skills and cultural impressions included.

The AHK managing director puts it in a nutshell: “In Tunisia, the level of education is good, engineering courses in particular are recognized by the companies. There are prospects if you make contact with the world of work at an early stage. "

Author: Verena Striebinger

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